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Lightning Round: the regular season doesn’t matter, much

The Bolts have slumped in the standings, but not far enough to worry about

NHL: MAR 24 Lightning at Bruins
BOSTON, MA - MARCH 24: Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) gloves the puck during a game between the Boston Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 24, 2022, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I was going to start this article out with something click-baity like “could the Tampa Bay Lightning miss the playoffs???” but we all know the answer to that is no. The Bolts, who are now fourth in the Atlantic Division with 84 points, are 25 points ahead of Detroit already in fifth, and 17 points ahead of Columbus in the Metro for fifth in that division. The chances of the Lightning missing the playoffs, according to Hockey Viz, are 0.02%. There is truly nothing to worry about other than seeding for the Lightning heading into another playoff run.

The Tampa Bay Lightning don’t have anything to prove in the regular season. It doesn’t matter. We know how good this team is, they’ve been in a division playoff spot all year, they are the double reigning Stanley Cup champions, and they’ll be perfectly happy facing anyone, anywhere in round one.

In fact, most of the Atlantic Division has little to prove in the regular season. Maybe the Florida Panthers want those division winning bragging rights. They’ve been up there all season and want to prove they’re real. Meanwhile the Maple Leafs and their fans don’t care about anything except winning in the first round. And maybe the Bruins want to show there’s still some game left in them by getting out of the wild card spot, but I’m sure they’re just managing their season like the Bolts are.

I mention the Bolts have nothing the prove because right now they’re proving very little. These are some stats before last night’s 3-2 loss to the Bruins. Steven Stamkos made it two goals in 11 games, but otherwise everyone else’s slumps grew. In a road-intensive month where eight of their last nine games were on the road, the Lightning have lost six of them. They have two more road games to go in March before 11 games at home. I have a feeling some home cooking will bring this team back into high gear just in time for the playoffs.

Even Leafs fans know exactly what’s up.

Looking at the remaining games, the Lightning play seven playoff teams in their final 19 games. A fairly easy road, especially with most of those games at home. I’m not worried one bit over how the Lightning are built, their talent, or chemistry, because we’ve seen it all from them already. They just needed a month to recharge before the shooting heaters start.

The Lightning are going to make the playoffs. They’re probably going to go far in the playoffs again. They might just win it for a third time and go full dynasty status. But I’m curious, if you had a preference, who would you like to see the Lightning play in the first round?

Poll

Who would you like to see the Lightning play in the first round?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Florida Panthers — beat them again
    (25 votes)
  • 58%
    Toronto Maple Leafs — let’s get a GM fired!
    (85 votes)
  • 15%
    Boston Bruins — 3-1 wins in five games
    (23 votes)
  • 5%
    Carolina Hurricanes — they have all the possession, we have all the goals
    (8 votes)
  • 2%
    Pittsburgh Penguins — ECF rematch
    (4 votes)
145 votes total Vote Now

Lightning Links

Peter wrote the recap from last night’s 3-2 loss to Boston. [Raw Charge]

“David Pastrnak’s hat trick lifted the Boston Bruins over the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 Thursday night. The win puts the Bruins ahead of the Lightning in the Atlantic Division standings, with Boston in third behind Toronto with 85 points and the Lightning in fourth with 84 points.”

Here is a potpourri of hockey news over at TSN.

That news hit included Evgenii Dadonov returning to the Vegas Golden Knights after his trade was voided because they (and the Ottawa Senators) forgot he had a no-trade clause. Well, he just scored for the Golden Knights last night to give the Golden Knights a rare win in recent times.